Nationwide Support For Volunteer Fire Department - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/5/2007-Smith County

Nationwide Support For Volunteer Fire Department

Unbelievable, that's how the Noonday Volunteer Fire Department describes the support they have received from across the country.  Friday morning, Noonday lost Captain Kevin Williams, 42 and Austin Cheek, 19 in a house fire near Flint.

With the Liberty Bell and the Ten Commandments outside for Kevin and Austin Sunday, the Noonday Volunteer Fire Department was back at work.

"One minute we are okay, and the next minute we are breaking down again," said Noonday Fire Chief Gary Aarant.  They are not alone, however.  Departments from across the nation continue to offer support.

"Trucks coming from the Houston Department, we've got trucks coming from Plano and Longview," said Aarant.  "I've had some phone calls today from a department out of Kansas wanting to know if they need to bring a truck down.  The brotherhood of fire departments is just huge."  That brotherhood brought Greg Johnston 250 miles to Noonday from Travis County.

"If I could help, or be a backup person, or whatever was needed I would be happy to do it," said Johnston.  "The first thing that flashed into my mind is that this could have been us.  This could have been me, or my family.  Treat people the way you want to be treated.  These folks have been through a lot here.  It could happen to any volunteer firefighter at any time."  There was a special moment Sunday afternoon between Kevin's family and the EMS responder who tried to save his life.  It's a life that inspired the responder to write a poem about Kevin.

Sunday morning, the Noonday Volunteer Fire Department went back to work, answering calls in memory of Kevin and Austin.

"We've got to get back in our trucks, and we've got to start going on these calls again," said Aarant.  "If we wait too long, it's going to be harder and harder for us to be able to do it.

There is still no cause for Friday morning's fire, or what ultimately led to the deaths of Williams and Cheek.  The Smith County Fire Marshal's Office said it re interviewed all those at the scene Friday trying to piece together what happened.

The visitation for Captain Williams took place Sunday night at Stewart Funeral Home in Tyler. Hundreds of people came to show their respects.  Williams funeral will be Monday at 2:00 p.m. at Bethel Bible Church in Tyler.  The visitation for Austin Cheek is Monday night from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Burks-Walker-Tippit Funeral Home.  Cheek's funeral will be at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday at Green Acres Baptist Church.

A combined Firefighter Memorial Service has been planned for 10:30 am Monday at Green Acres Baptist Church.

Danielle Capper, Reporting.

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